Most of the content we interact with online is meant to make us take action, such as: For example, follow a link, rate a post, download a study, sign up for a trial, etc.
However, those who interact with marketing content aren’t always too eager to respond on a whim. It is therefore important to treat the conversion as part of a larger customer journey and to create our content marketing touchpoints accordingly.
To lead the prospect in the right direction, you need a well-designed content marketing funnel where each content plays its assigned role.
Semrush has done a lot of research to find out how content marketers are building their funnels in 2021, what content formats they are using, and what challenges they are facing. Below you will find insights into our current studies and webinars.
If you read the article to the end, you will receive a bonus resource that you can use to analyze and improve your content marketing funnel, or create one from scratch.
Content Marketing During the Pandemic
Our survey, conducted in mid-2020, found that while most marketers are actively creating content for all customer journey stages – 95%, TOFU content; 86%, MOFU content; and 76% BOFU content – the vast majority of them face challenges:
- Create content that drives traffic – 47%
- Motivate the target group – 43%
- Get quality leads from content – 51%
In other words, Covid-19 has both increased the importance of content marketing as the most powerful brand communication tool, as well as increased competition for user attention at every funnel stage.
At the same time, as Judith Lewis rightly stated at one of our webinars, marketers have been robbed of their usual benchmarks for content performance due to the significant fluctuations in qualitative metrics – caused by panic and lockdowns
Now, many companies are watching their customer behavior change and trying to adjust their value propositions, perspectives, and priorities along the way.
Let’s take a closer look at the challenges identified, their possible solutions, and metrics that will help you adapt to the new normal.
Top-of-the-funnel challenge: Dealing with information overload
According to Datareportal, 4.7 billion people worldwide spend up to seven hours online every day, and 63% of them go there to find information. When brands try to take advantage of the opportunity these stats present, they create a lot of the same content, which leads to overload.
With thousands of similar options, users suffer from decision burnout. Alternatively, they become extremely picky about something that is not incomparable.
Steps to take:
- Make sure the amount of TOFU content you have correlates with the amount of traffic you want to drive: break all of your website content down by funnel levels.
- Check your keyword rankings – whether you are still ranking for your target keywords and whether they are still relevant to your target audience.
- Review your editorial plan: do research and add more topics that reflect current reality.
Metrics To Focus On:
- User behavior
- Traffic sources
To uncover the secret of user intent, not only should you look at how many people are visiting a particular post or page, but also where they are from and what they are doing. That way, you can answer an important question: does your content attract the right people? at the right moment on your journey?
Challenge in the middle of the funnel: establishing a connection
Another idea that has been badly disrupted by the pandemic is brand engagement.
When you consider that 75% of Americans have given up the brands they were loyal to as a result of the pandemic, you can imagine how much more difficult it has become to build relationships with your prospects.
The main drivers behind this change in shopping behavior were convenience and value. With that as a foundation, you can try rethinking your brand’s voice and messaging to create and deliver a smooth and engaging experience.
Steps to take:
- Show respect: remove sales messages and CTAs on the pages that should not be converted.
- Use multimedia and immersive content formats to meet the needs of different user groups.
- Ask your users what they want: involve your sales reps and customer-facing teams in brainstorming content.
Metrics To Focus On:
- Qualitative data
That doesn’t mean you have to neglect quantitative metrics. Just make sure you combine sentiment ratings (surveys, interviews, social listening, etc.) and numeric data to understand if your content is welcomed and meets the needs of the target audience.
Bottom-of-the-funnel challenge: value creation
Although the bans led to an increase in online shopping, numerous companies reported reductions in marketing budgets and many consumers saw their income decline significantly. As a result, buyers tend to think twice before signing up for products or services they could never buy.
To generate leads in this environment, you need to focus your messages on presenting value. Any content you create should solve a problem. And it’s not just about the value of your product.
Steps to take:
- For any content you create, set a clear and measurable goal and make sure it is optimized for conversion (make sure there are links, CTAs, etc.).
- Start by pursuing these goals to ensure that all of the previous funnel stages are covered and that the buyer journey goes smoothly.
- Find the perfect format for converting copies by analyzing the performance of existing pages.
Metrics To Focus On:
Again, historical data can help you again: look at the content that has already been converted and learn from its success. Check the format and length, create similar pages, and run A / B tests to see if they work as intended. Discard or reuse poorly performing copies and keep traffic flowing steadily to the best performing pages.
Measuring the performance of the content marketing funnel in the new normal
Adapting to change is never easy, but a smart marketer can learn from any situation, including crisis. The current environment is a great opportunity to rethink your content marketing funnel step by step and adapt it to the new reality.
Here’s what you can do:
- Review your existing content and break it down by funnel level.
- Switch from measuring year-to-year and month-to-month to continuously monitoring content performance.
- Set up the right analytics tools for your system. Go beyond Google Analytics and Google Search Console as they may not be able to tell you the full story.
To see what else you can do to optimize content performance at each funnel stage, get your free bonus, the ultimate guide to building a powerful content marketing funnel. Download the eBook
More resources on the content marketing funnel
How to create and optimize content marketing for the B2B funnel [Infographic]
How to Create a Content Marketing Funnel That Will Drive Sales
Effective content types for every stage of the buyer’s journey [Infographic]